When you go to the dentist and get your teeth cleaned, the hygienist makes sure to examine various parts throughout your mouth.

Typically, the appointment includes a physical exam to check your teeth and evaluate your oral health. Next, the appointment will include scaling, which usually takes the bulk of the appointment. This is when the hygienist uses tools to clean your teeth and remove plaque and tartar. Next, they will often use polish (often feels like gritty toothpaste) to give your teeth a deep clean and make them sparkle. 

The appointment usually ends with X-rays, flossing, rinse, and finally…fluoride. 

What is Fluoride?

Fluoride is a commonly found mineral found all throughout our natural environment . Fluoride is typically found in soil, plants, rocks, water, and even the air. 

So why do dentists use fluoride?

In the right quantity, fluoride is shown to help strengthen the enamel on your teeth which helps prevent cavities. These effects make it invaluable for the dentist to help improve overall oral health. For this reason, it is often used at the end of your dental cleaning appointment to give your teeth a boost of this important mineral. 

In some cases, fluoride is found in the drinking water of the state you live in. Adding it can help improve the oral health of the population and is done by the state or county you live in. In small amounts, fluoride is also found in most kinds of toothpaste because of its benefits to your teeth. 

What Does Fluoride Do For Your Teeth?

The benefits of using fluoride on your teeth are enough to convince the specialists. It helps decrease cavities, strengthen enamel, and helps reverse early signs of tooth decay. 

But how does it do all of that?

When teeth are growing and forming beneath the gums, fluoride is used to form the outer layer of the tooth. Teeth have 4 layers consisting of the cementum, pulp, dentin, and the outer layer of enamel. A cavity occurs when food, sugar, or other decay erodes a tiny hole in the enamel of your tooth. 

Because fluoride is used in the early stages of tooth growth, the continual use of fluoride on your teeth—and getting fluoride in your diet—gives your teeth the ability to strengthen the enamel and fight against cavities. 

Stronger enamel also helps your teeth fight against decay and remain strong and healthy. 

Oral health is important because when you eat sugars and carbs, bacteria in your mouth break them down, creating a natural acidity. This acid can eat away at the enamel of your teeth, which ultimately leads to cavities. 

Fluoride helps fight this acid and strengthens the enamel by remineralizing the teeth. This strengthening decreases the risk of cavities. 

In summation, fluoride does a lot for your teeth, including:

  • Remineralizing the enamel of your teeth
  • Fighting against enamel breaking down and resulting in cavities
  • Preventing bacteria growth

Side Effects of Fluoride

Fluoride benefits your oral health by strengthening your teeth, preventing tooth decay, and helping make your teeth resistant to bacteria. While there are many great things about fluoride, there can also be some negative side effects if the dosage is too high. 

Dental Fluorosis: Too much fluoride while your teeth are forming can result in white spots on your teeth known as dental fluorosis. Fortunately, this doesn’t harm your teeth other than altering their appearance. For children, it is important to not let them swallow toothpaste in order to prevent this. 

Skeletal Fluorosis: Fluoride is used to strengthen bones as well as teeth. This side effect impacts the bones rather than the teeth. Long-term exposure to high amounts of fluoride can lead to joint pain and the calcification of ligaments. While fluoride can strengthen bones, too much of it can be harmful. Side effects like skeletal fluorosis are rare in the United States. 

In children (especially ages 3 and under), fluoride is important in dental and bone growth, but because they are growing and developing, too much fluoride can have a negative impact. When your children are brushing their teeth with fluoride toothpaste, it is important to closely supervise them to ensure they do not swallow any. On top of that, you should only let them use a small amount of toothpaste when brushing. 

Overall, the use of fluoride on teeth is positive in helping improve oral health, fight cavities and decay, and strengthen the enamel of your teeth. 

Fluoride At The Dentist

After your teeth are cleaned, polished, X-rayed, and rinsed, the hygienist will probably ask you what flavor you prefer. This is used to determine what flavor of fluoride you would like. 

Depending on your dentist, they will use highly concentrated forms of fluoride in the form of a rinse, foam, gel, or varnish. These treatments can be applied in different ways, but all of them do the same thing.

Because it is so concentrated, the treatment does not take a long time, usually just a few minutes. Usually, the dentist will request that you don’t eat or drink for at least 30 minutes after the treatment. This time frame provides a buffer that allows the fluoride to fully absorb into your teeth before being washed away by food or drinks. 

Before getting a fluoride treatment, be sure to communicate any health concerns or ask any questions that you have. 

On average, dentists recommend fluoride treatment every 6 or 12 months. Some insurances will cover this treatment more often. Check out this article to learn more about in-network and out-of-network insurance coverages.

If you are more prone to cavities, your dentist may request that you do this more often, use high-fluoride kinds of toothpaste, or even give you a fluoride treatment to do at home. 

If you have questions about fluoride treatment or are interested in booking an appointment with Durango dental, contact us today. We offer specialized treatment as well as appointments to get your teeth cleaned, have routine checkups, and so much more. 

At Durango Dental, your smile is our priority, and we want to help you love your smile and feel confident in your teeth. 

Call us today with any questions or to book your next appointment.